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Too Much Progesterone Symptoms: What You Should Know and Do When You Have

Updated on August 27, 2016
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Sree trained in dentistry and is currently pursuing lab sciences. She loves researching and sharing information on various health topics.

Women have two naturally occurring sex hormones that perform essential functions in their health as well as in their looks. These are estrogen and progesterone. The former is responsible for the development of female characteristics in girls during and after puberty. Likewise, it also performs a protective function against physiological diseases like diabetes, heart illnesses, and Alzheimer's. More than that, it helps in combating fatigue and obesity. If you've been experiencing too much progesterone symptoms, then this indicates that the delicate balance of your estrogen levels are also threatened.

First, let's talk about what progesterone is and why it's important to the body. Progesterone is categorized as a progestogen which is a group of steroid hormones. It is produced by the corpus luteum in the female ovary. That said, progesterone may also be secreted in small amounts by the adrenal glands and the ovaries themselves. This vital hormone is secreted during the next half of the woman's menstrual cycle. Not only is it indispensable in the menstrual cycle, but it's also needed in facilitating the early phases of pregnancy.

During the 14th day of the menstrual cycle, the egg is freed from the ovaries. The leftover fragments of the ovarian follicle that held the developing ovum then creates a structure known as the corpus luteum. This eventually secretes progesterone as well as estradiol. If the released egg was fertilized, the progesterone functions to prep your body for gestation. On the other hand, if fertilization of the mature egg does not occur, the corpus luteum disintegrates and progesterone production drops. This ushers in a whole new menstrual cycle.

In case the ovum becomes fertilized, the progesterone prompts the growth of blood vessels which will carry blood to the endometrium or the womb's lining. At the same time, this hormone activates the endometrial glands to produce nutrients that are needed by the budding embryo. Furthermore, the hormone is responsible for getting the uterine tissues ready for egg implantation. Continuous secretion of progesterone is needed during pregnancy to maintain the womb's lining. Otherwise, lack of progesterone production will place the mother at risk for bleeding and miscarriage may occur.

The cells which enclose the embryo (which will later on construct the placenta) secretes HCG. That's the same hormone you're testing for when using a home pregnancy test kit. In other words, only pregnant women secrete high levels of human chorionic gonadotropin. This very same hormone will trigger the continuous production of progesterone until a viable placenta is formed. When the placenta is fully established at the 12th week of gestation, it takes over the job of the progesterone.

Additionally, the placenta may secrete the hormone in tiny amounts. That said, progesterone production is still needed all throughout the rest of the pregnancy in order to assist in the growth of the mother's breast tissues. Furthermore, it fortifies the pregnant woman's pelvic wall muscles in order to prepare her for the demands of labor. From the time of the fertilization to the time of labor and childbirth, progesterone levels are expected to rise progressively.

On top of it all, progesterone is also utilized in hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women. This hormone alleviates the bothersome symptoms. Now you know how good this hormone can be but as they say, too much of something is usually always a bad thing.

What You Should Know and Do When You Have Too Much Progesterone Symptoms
What You Should Know and Do When You Have Too Much Progesterone Symptoms | Source

What Happens When You Have Too Much Progesterone?

Fatigue: Chronic tiredness is one of the most common too much progesterone symptoms that both pregnant and non-pregnant women find hard to cope with. The elevated levels of progesterone within your body may direct signals to your brain to slow down receptor communications. As a matter of fact, this is why progesterone is often used to minimize the occurrence of seizure contractions in epileptic patients. Even so, too much progesterone in both pregnant and non-pregnant ladies tend to create a sedative effect which lessens work productivity and affects the overall quality of their lives.

Ovarian Cysts: The levels of progesterone in your body directly influences your reproductive organs and your menstrual cycle. In the event that excessive amounts of this hormone are being produced, ovarian cysts may develop. If too much progesterone is suspected to be the culprit of the cyst formation, the physician may order a blood test to check progesterone levels.

Prevention of Pregnancy: Women take progesterone pills either alone or in conjunction with estrogen in order to prevent ovulation and thus, make pregnancy difficult.

Multiple Births: As previously mentioned, progesterone levels are expected to rise steadily all throughout pregnancy. If this doesn't happen, the doctor may order progesterone therapy. However, in a pregnant woman, extremely elevated progesterone levels may be indicative of multiple births. She may be carrying twins or triplets or more.

Effects on Intimacy: Abnormally high progesterone levels in both pregnant and non-pregnant women has the potential to affect their intimate relations. Females may experience symptoms such as dryness in the private areas, and lack of interest in intimate activities. Furthermore, other physiological symptoms associated with high progesterone levels, such as breast tenderness, make women less likely to feel aroused. Also, in some cases, too much progesterone causes depression.

Warning!

Though not usually life threatening in itself, too much progesterone in the body may be a sign of congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Moreover, abnormally elevated levels of progesterone are related to an increased risk of breast cancer development. High progesterone levels in both men and women may be a sign of various types of cancers.

Knowing More About Too Much Progesterone Symptoms

Frequently reported too much progesterone symptoms can be categorized according to tell-tale signs, common symptoms, and rare symptoms.

Tell-tale Signs: Non-definitive signs of having too much progesterone in the body include muscle weakness. You may feel tired most of the time for no apparent reason. This is one of the explanations as to why one of the tell-tale signs of pregnancy include a feeling of laziness. Other indicative though inconclusive symptoms include a feeling of dryness in the reproductive area and an elevation in body temperature.

Common Symptoms: Among the most frequently experienced too much progesterone symptoms is chest tenderness. The woman may experience anxiety along with fatigue and depression. Bloating may also be observed. It's also possible for the affected individual to manifest frequent mood swings and a sudden drop in libido.

Rare Symptoms: Some unusual symptoms of high progesterone production may manifest in a few ladies. These include oily skin and acne breakouts. The woman may also experience sudden headaches and menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. A sudden weight gain may be noticed. Along with having difficulty in holding in urine, the affected individual may also suffer from urinary tract infection.

All of these symptoms are undoubtedly uncomfortable so finding relief from them is necessary if you wish to carry on with your usual life. However, before jumping to conclusions or worse, before thinking of self-medicating, a physician will need to confirm whether the symptoms you're experiencing are truly caused by high progesterone levels.

Catching the Culprit
There are many ways to determine whether the symptoms you're experiencing are really caused by elevated progesterone production. These include the following.

BBT Charting: Basal body temperature charting is done by checking and keeping a record of your body temperature daily. This is done early in the morning upon waking or while your body is at rest. You should notice a small but noticeable increase in temperature just after ovulation. An irregular or a constantly high temperature is indicative of high progesterone levels.

Luteal Phase Length: Establish that you're ovulating through an ovulation detector strip. You'll know that there's a problem in the luteal phase if you note that your ovulation time is less than eleven days prior to your period. This, again, is indicative of too much progesterone production.

Saliva Hormone Exam: This test is something that you can perform in the comfort of your home. Afterwards, you can send the saliva sample to a laboratory to be analyzed. Once the sample has been examined, they'll be able to determine whether you're suffering from a hormonal imbalance.

Blood Hormone Exam: This test is performed only by a certified medical professional. Upon reporting the presence of too much progesterone symptoms to your physician, he/she may order a blood test. After being certain that the symptoms you're having are caused by high progesterone levels, your physician will guide you on the appropriate course of action.

When Should You Test Your Progesterone Levels?
Testing of progesterone levels are best done one week after the start of the ovulation. This way, you'll be able to detect the level of progesterone while it's at its peak. That said, this may only work with women who have regular menstrual cycles.

How to Prepare Yourself for a Progesterone Test - Men and Progesterone
How to Prepare Yourself for a Progesterone Test - Men and Progesterone | Source

How to Prepare Yourself for a Progesterone Test

A progesterone test is performed to measure the level of progesterone contained within your blood sample. This test is frequently done to determine the cause of infertility in women, to monitor the effectiveness of hormone therapy, or to check the success of infertility meds. It may also be performed to see whether ovulation is occurring. In pregnant women, a progesterone test may be ordered to assess the function of the placenta and the ovaries as well as to evaluate the risk of miscarriage. In a non-pregnant woman, progesterone testing may be ordered to aid in the diagnosis of adrenal gland diseases and certain types of cancer.

Preparation

  • One month prior to the test, your doctor may ask you to temporarily stop the intake of some medications, especially hormonal birth control pills.
  • You need to inform your physician if you've undergone medical tests using a radioactive tracer in the past week. These include bone scans and thyroid scans. The radioactive substance will yield false test results.
  • If you notice that bleeding is scant on the first day of your recent menstrual period, report this to your doctor.
  • Except for the sting of the needle puncture, this test is meant to be painless.
  • Inform your doctor if you're taking blood-thinning pharmaceuticals or supplements like warfarin or garlic herbal remedies. These can increase your risk for bleeding.

Checking the Results
If you've had yourself tested because of too much progesterone symptoms then you can expect your results to arrive usually within 24 hours. Your doctor will explain the results to you. However, no one wants to be completely in the dark. To verify the results on your own, check out the table below. It lists down the normal values which you can use as your reference range. That said, reference ranges tend to differ from laboratory to laboratory.

males
progesterone levels should be less than 1.0 ng/mL
menopausal women
progesterone less should be less than 1 ng/mL
pregnant women: 1st trimester
progesterone levels should be no less than 10 ng/mL and no more than 44 ng/mL
pregnant women: 2nd trimester
progesterone levels should be no less than 19.5 ng/mL and no more than 82.5 ng/mL
pregnant women: 3rd trimester
progesterone levels should be no less than 65 ng/mL and no more than 290 ng/mL
non-pregnant women: 1-14 days of menstrual cycle
progesterone levels should be less than 1 ng/mL
non-pregnant women: 15-28 days of menstrual cycle
progesterone levels should be no less than 2 ng/mL and no more than 25 ng/mL

So, what are the possible indications if you are experiencing too much progesterone symptoms and your test results turn out to be above normal?

  • The first possibility is that you are pregnant.
  • However, if pregnancy can certainly be ruled out, further testing may be done for suspected cancer of the ovaries or cancer of the adrenal glands.
  • Another possibility is that you are suffering from a molar pregnancy or carrying a hydatidiform mole.
  • On the other hand, your adrenal glands may simply be overly productive.

To confirm these suspicions, further testing is necessary.

There are also certain factors which can influence the results of your tests. These include the use of birth control pills and the intake of medications such as ampicillin prior to the test. Note also that progesterone levels tend to naturally fluctuate during the day. This means the time that the test was conducted may affect the results as well. Another factor that can affect the test is when you took it while you're having your period.

Men and Progesterone
As you may have noticed in the table, even men are susceptible to an increased production of progesterone. Progesterone is not only found in women but in men as well. Later on, this hormone is converted to testosterone. In fact, males manufacture up to 15 mg of progesterone in their testicles daily. Similar to women, the levels of progesterone in men tend to drop drastically as they age. In this case, the level of testosterone also plummets. Usually, the doctors will order a progesterone supplement as treatment for hormonal imbalances in men. Progesterone therapy in men helps prevent the occurrence of prostate cancer. It may also be prescribed to treat infertility in males. Prescribed progesterone may come in the form of oral pills or in the form of topical creams. Whichever form is used, dosage should be limited to 6-10 mg daily.

But what happens when males reflect an abnormal increase in progesterone levels?
As with women, one of the too much progesterone symptoms experienced by men is an unexplainable fatigue. They may also suffer from depression. At the same time, elevated progesterone levels subsequently lead to a rise in estrogen production. When this happens, the risk for developing cardiac conditions occur. Likewise, men with extremely elevated progesterone levels are likely to suffer from inflammation of the prostrate, problems with the urinary tract, and erectile dysfunction.

When a man consumes progesterone supplements in amounts that exceed the prescribed daily dose, he may experience lethargy. Other negative side effects of progesterone therapy in men include pain and swelling in the joints and developing an intolerance to glucose.

When left uncorrected, males who are experiencing elevated levels of progesterone for prolonged periods may experience complications. They end up developing layers of abdominal fat which is associated with a greater risk for heart disease. Some men report noticing a decrease in facial hair growth. Meanwhile, others "grow busts". That is, fatty deposits accumulate around their nipples.

What Happens When Men or Women Use Progesterone Therapy for Prolonged Periods?

While progesterone therapy may be helping you, one-time progesterone overdose and long-term use of this hormone may lead to serious side effects. Among the most particularly alarming too much progesterone symptoms are those that involve your nervous system. More than 30% of individuals on progesterone therapy report experiencing dizziness. Another frequently reported symptom is diaphoresis. However, there are those who experience nervous tremors and even speaking disorders indicating that the muscular system has been affected as well. About 20% of males and females who are chronic progesterone users report experiencing pain in the joints. A smaller but still significant percentage claim to suffer from back aches and musculoskeletal pain.

Too much intake of progesterone may also affect the genitourinary tract. Approximately 10% of women taking progesterone pills report having abnormal genital discharges. A slightly greater percentage claim to experience urinary problems. 20% of females taking progesterone supplements for extended periods suffer from abdominal pains. Others end up having diarrhea and nausea.

Prolonged use of progesterone pills may also cause cardiovascular side effects. Both men and women may experience chest pains and chest palpitations. There are also those who develop hypertension. Because progesterone has a blood-thickening effect, it increases your clotting time. This places you at risk for the formation of thrombi and emboli. Consequently, dislodged emboli can cause you to suffer from a stroke.

Respiratory side effects and complications that occur in patients who undergo long-term progesterone therapy include sinusitis, persistent coughing, nasal congestion, and even inflammation of the bronchi.

Using progesterone too much or for too long can also affect your integumentary system. You may suffer from acne breakouts or if you're using injectable progesterone, a rash may develop on the injection site. Other dermal problems associated with lengthy progesterone usage include seborrhea and discoloration of the skin.

Those who have been taking high dosages of progesterone for years also claim to experience hazy and distorted vision and other eye problems. Additionally, too much progesterone can alter one's level of consciousness and overall mental health. Aside from experiencing depression, you may end up suffering from anxiety attacks, insomnia, and a frustrating inability to concentrate.

How to Deal With It

Experiencing too much progesterone symptoms can't be easy. However, this condition can certainly be managed through therapy and lifestyle modifications.

Improve your lifestyle: To reduce the effects of the symptoms associated with increased progesterone levels, you'll need to ensure that you eat a healthy and balanced diet. Pair this with regular exercise. Avoid leading a sedentary lifestyle. At the same time, avoid overexposure to stressful situations. Learn stress-reducing techniques such as deep-breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation.

Research reveals that consuming foods which stabilize estrogen levels help in correcting progesterone imbalances. Such foods include fruits like apples and cherries. Also, increase your consumption of potatoes, yams, soy, rice, wheat, and alfalfa.

Try herbal remedies: There are some helpful herbs that can help decrease the symptoms associated with high progesterone levels. They are categorized into phytoestrogenic and non-estrogenic.

An example of a phytoestrogenic herb is black cohosh. It works its magic by introducing plant-based estrogenic compounds into your system. Meanwhile, Macafem is an example of a non-estrogenic herb. It works by nourishing the endocrine glands which produce the hormones.

Ask your doctor about HTR: Hormone replacement therapy lessens too much progesterone symptoms by using pharmaceuticals to correct the imbalance. When consulting with your physician about this therapy, be sure to ask about the dangers associated with HTR. HTR is known to increase the risk of cancer in women as well as heart illnesses and cerebrovascular accidents in both genders.

HTR with progesterone is contraindicated to individuals with arterial disease, women with breast cancer, those who are suffering from depression, people with liver impairments, and females who have had undiagnosed bleeding in the reproductive area.

Now, you've got all the important information you need about increased progesterone levels, its symptoms, its diagnosis, and its management. Test your knowledge by answering the following question.

What should you not do when you suspect that you have too much progesterone?

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